In the years while I was still working full time and thinking forward to retirement, I remember looking at my church bulletin and noticing that the seniors group would frequently be going on bus rides and thinking that sounded like something I wanted to do when I arrived at that point in time. However, when I did have a little more time in which to join in on bus tours, the various church bulletins stopped mentioning them.
Since attending the Padre Pio prayer group, I’ve found that they have trips to various points of religious interest. After the trip to Rome in February, one of the pilgrims on the trip, Brother Richard, a Capuchin Friar, sent the group an invitation to come up to the monastery, St. Bonaventure in Detroit. Cindy, the group leader told us about the invitation at the March meeting and said we would have breakfast on the bus, and a sumptuous chicken luncheon at the monastery and on the way home we would have happy hour. This was definitely attractive to me. I filled out the form and mailed in my check and blocked off April 22nd on my calendar.
While I am really NOT a morning person, I can get up as early as I must when the situation requires it, so I remember waking at four a.m. and crawling back under the covers until a more reasonable hour at five. It helped that I didn‘t have to prepare breakfast, I just had to be ready to hit the road by 6:15 or the latest 6:30 – I always prefer to be early rather than miss my connections. There were already plenty of cars in the church parking lot when I arrived and once the bus pulled in we started locking our vehicles and heading toward the bus. Another bus would come soon as there were quite a few of us and some of the faces I recognized from the trip to Rome, but most I did not recognize.
After a short while there was an assortment of bakery, cookies, hard boiled eggs, orange juice, coffee being set up on some picnic tables and we got name tags and then selected from all the goodies – I decided on a couple of eggs and juice to eat before getting back on the bus and took a wrapped piece of bakery and coffee onto the bus. Soon the remnants of the meal were cleared away and almost everyone was on the bus. An ambulance was flashing its red light and we were all wondering what happened. Someone had gotten sick was the news and when I looked out the window I saw a lady I am acquainted with from this area and said, “Oh my! She’s from St. Monica’s!” It was just a blessing that she realized something was wrong before getting into the bus and then needing to be transported to the hospital. Luckily, her daughter was with her. I learned later from Diane that the lady was admitted to Marymount Hospital for testing.
On the bus we said a prayer for her twice and then went on with some other prayers and had a short video to watch about Father Solanus Casey, whom Brother Richard had come to our group and talked about sometime last year. Before we knew it we had covered about a hundred miles on the Ohio Turnpike and were pulling into a rest stop. I had been to this one last year when I drove up to my cousin Barb’s for the Ann Arbor Art Festival.
It had been raining in Cleveland and suburbs and it was grey and dismal all the way to Detroit, but we were all chattering and laughing and talking so it did not matter. When it seemed that we were near our destination the driver realized we were not exactly where we thought we were and we turned around and got back onto the highway and went a short way further.
Once we unfolded our knees and entered the portal of the St. Bonaventure grounds, we were all agog over the many sculptures in the garden. The place was filled with artwork. Of course I was busy snapping pictures before we filed into a small auditorium for a brief video about Father Solanus and a talk. From there we wove through a little museum and an exquisite chapel with ancient wood carved altar and statues of Mary and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, each in a similar wood enclosure.
The lunch of chicken, potatoes, green beans, salad and a slice of cake, coffee or water was just as delicious as it promised to be.
The gift store was featuring a book with “professional” photos of all of the important artwork on the grounds and in the building for half price and there was a coupon for all of the people on the bus trip for another fifty percent off so the $20.00 book was $5.00 to any of us for this day, because they wanted the book to be widely distributed (perhaps they were really overstocked.) In any case, the book is lovely and the price was right and of course, who didn’t buy something else as well. I bought a jar of Kadota fig jam and 2 holy cards that were prints of water color portraits of Fr. Solanus – one with a poem on the back and the other with a prayer.
We had a Mass in the beautiful chapel and then wandered around and I made sure I got all of the pictures I wanted to take before it was announced that the bus was waiting for us and Brother Richard was waving us off promising he’ll come down to talk to us again soon. We were laughing when we realized they close the doors to the public at five p.m. so they were gently sending us home so they could close shop.
Before the bus revved up for the drive home we were given our choice of red or white wine or soda pop. Normally I prefer red wine, but I had seen the box the red was in and I have had that one and did not like it so I took white and the plastic glasses were half full and the wine was very nice. No seconds were offered, but that was soon followed by a choice of Italian submarine sandwich or chicken salad croissants, I took the latter which was quite tasty, a little pasta salad and a couple of small cookies which I saved for another time.
Darkness descended and the movie, The Way starring Martin Sheen was played. I had seen the movie a few years ago and liked it just as well the second time. We said good night as we parted in the parking lot where the journey began. It was about 9:30 when I got back home and rolled the trash bin back up the driveway and closed the garage.
Back in the house I was thankful for a safe return and an enjoyable day.